New measures of effectiveness for human language technology
January 1, 2005
The field of human language technology (HLT) encompasses algorithms and applications dedicated to processing human speech and written communication. We focus on two types of HLT systems: (1) machine translation systems, which convert text and speech files from one human language to another, and (2) speech-to-text (STT) systems, which produce text transcripts when given audio files of human speech as input. Although both processes are subject to machine errors and can produce varying levels of garbling in their output, HLT systems are improving at a remarkable pace, according to system-internal measures of performance. To learn how these system-internal measurements correlate with improved capabilities for accomplishing real-world language-understanding tasks, we have embarked on a collaborative, interdisciplinary project involving Lincoln Laboratory, the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center to develop new techniques to scientifically measure the effectiveness of these technologies when they are used by human subjects.